Imagine if your collection centers knew the best hour of the day to contact each delinquent account. Now, imagine that your calling strategies were intelligently coordinated, consistently executed, and impervious to disruptions.

~ by Lois Brown

Imagine if your collection centers knew the best hour of the day to contact each delinquent account. And imagine that you could easily overlay this data with your actual – not projected – agent availability. Now, imagine that your calling strategies were intelligently coordinated, consistently executed, and impervious to disruptions.

Can you imagine the results of such an efficient collections operation? The benefits would no doubt include:

    • More right-party contacts throughout the day
    • Maximized collections per agent hour
    • Freedom from time-consuming manual tasks

Today many collections operations are doing much more than just imagining this idealized scenario: They are living it – thanks to a commitment to high-efficiency practices. In particular, seven efficiency habits can have a powerful impact – and deliver significant rewards – to every collections operation.

HABIT 1. Automate List Management.

In their ongoing effort to improve collections, many list managers segment their campaigns into multiple sub- populations by various factors, such as risk, time zones, and balance due. Then, based on best guesses or historical evidence, they move the lists around all day among agents, centers, and times-of-day – in the hope of eventually reaching each right-party when they are available and ready to make a promise-to-pay. If these time-consuming manual maneuvers netted significant results, the extra work might be justified: But, in fact, these high-cost actions rarely maximize collections per agent hour.

However, many highly efficient collection centers have deployed intelligent technologies that automate call list segmentation management, thereby eliminating the time, expense, and frustration of manual execution. The most efficient have deployed automated list management capabilities that allow them to execute the most advanced list management tasks, such as automatically coordinating lists into a single download and controlling intensity levels to better meet their goals.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: The list managers at a major national bank’s collection center reported that they used to arrive at work two hours before the start of the calling day just to get the lists ready for the day. Now they arrive only 15 minutes early – just to get a cup of coffee.

HABIT 2. Maintain Call Strategy Consistency.

In the real world, collections operations face daily challenges from many directions, including workload fluctuations, sudden demands to increase penetration of specific call lists, and contractual obligation of insourced lists. These demands can quickly bottleneck workflow and make it impossible for centers to maintain consistent call strategy execution.

However, instead of looking at the problems as work disruption issues, highly efficient collection centers look at them all as real-time list synchronization problems. This shift in focus helps them see that these problems can be solved by technologies that provide real-time list management. With this capability, the list managers can make seamless intra-day adjustments, additions, and changes to call campaigns – without disrupting the dialers pacing or the agents’ workflow.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: One major collections operation called both in-house accounts and in sourced accounts. While the third-party list utilized the center’s extra agent time each day, it also disrupted call flow when the dialer managers had to switch out the lists. By centralizing list management, the center was able to work the in sourced calls into the daily workflow without the traditional mid-day disruptions. The center not only improved their agent efficiency, but also increased right-party contacts for their client.

HABIT 3. Balance Agent Workloads and Productivity.

Despite their best efforts and the promises of some of today’s workforce optimization technologies, many collection centers still struggle to overcome the classic workforce problem of having either too many or too few agents. Many highly efficient call centers have learned that relying on traditional agent scheduling techniques, like judgment, past experience, and detailed Excel spreadsheets, is highly ineffective. What’s more, many have found that the agent schedules projected by typical workforce optimization programs do not, in the long run, consistently manage actual workforce requirements in their ever-fluctuating operations.

To overcome all of these scheduling problems, many highly efficient collections operations have discovered software applications that perfectly match workload to actual agent capacity – in a single center or across multiple centers.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: By matching its actual workload to its actual agent workforce, one national bankcard’s collections operation with centers on the East coast and West coast significantly improved its agent productivity – and job satisfaction. Because the East coast agents were now meeting their daily quotas, the company no longer needed to maintain a late shift on the West coast just to ensure that daily quotas were met. By improving the agents’ work hours, they boosted morale and reduced turnover.

HABIT 4. Optimize Right-Party Contacts.

Every day collections operations around the world rely on one common strategy to reach more right-parties: call penetration. They simply pay their agents to start at the top of a list of accounts and call to the bottom, over and over again until finally, one day, they make contact with each account. But this strategy is unnecessarily expensive.

Collection centers which have replaced outdated calling strategies with new analytic technologies that predict the best-time-of-day to call each account are spending less to get the same results.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: By deploying intelligent right-party contact targeting software, many collections operations have reported double-digit increases in right-party contacts and promises-to-pay in both early- and late-stage collections.

HABIT 5. Execute without Interruptions.

Like all businesses, collections operations face the real-world threat of workflow disruptions, including dialer down problems, communication link disturbance, late lists, power failures, and natural disasters. While some centers struggle to overcome these workflow productivity interruptions after-the-fact, other collections operations have taken proactive steps to deploy fail-safe measures that ensure the highest uptime at all times.

These precautions include centralized management capabilities that deliver powerful capabilities including:

    • Sending small sets of call records to the dialers, while holding the entire day’s calling assignments in a central database. In this way, if there is any disruption from a dialer, call center, or agent population, the central database can immediately redirect the next scheduled set of accounts.
    • Responding to late list arrival by pulling the best-uncontacted records from yesterday’s file.
    • Running hot-standby and redundant processors that operate a like-configuration of the active production system and, in the event of a failure, take over without any lost data or productivity.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: One of the top ten global bank’s collection centers reported greatly appreciating the fact that they do not lose data or calling efficiency whenever one dialer goes down. They simply switch call flow to a second dialer, which maintains a mirror image of the daily call lists.

HABIT 6. Test the Results.

It’s one thing to improve productivity, and another to commit to a process of continual improvement based on constant champion/challenger testing. Highly effective collection centers put their call strategies to the test so they can continually choose the approach that delivers the highest impact. Technologies with built-in testing functionality make it easy to conduct a variety of unbiased tests, such as testing business-as-usual against a strategy to increase promises-to-pay from long-term debtors.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: The collection centers’ of a global automaker were getting very high right-party contacts on weekends when accounts were home and a high percent of promises-to-pay on early-stage accounts. But by testing this business-as-usual approach against a strategy that targeted late-stage and higher debt accounts, the center increased dollars collected with fewer phone calls on the weekends.

HABIT 7. Trust the Answers.

A common problem with deploying new technologies is that it’s easy to fall back into old processes due to habit, lack of commitment to the new systems, or lack of trust that they are delivering better results. However, when highly efficient collection centers deploy new technologies that deliver on that promise of better results, the centers make a commitment to support the new technologies. As a result, these collection organizations gain the maximum return on their investments.

EFFICIENCY REWARD: One collections center of a leading national retailer made such a strong commitment to its new, more-efficient processes that it benchmarked its operations against its industry peers, and found that its operations excelled in every area.

“Lois Brown is Vice President of Marketing at Austin Logistics Incorporated, headquartered in Austin, Texas. She oversees brand positioning, marketing communications, and new product definition for the companies’ expanding line of predictive analytic and optimization solutions.”

About Kollect Systems

Kollect Systems is an innovative tech platform provider with BankTech and FinTech software solutions which leverage AI based decisioning and workflow technologies to help lenders perform Debt Collections & Recovery (BankTech) processes effectively and for mid-size to large scale enterprise companies (FinTech), to automate Receivables, e-Invoicing & Payments better.

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Kollect Systems is an innovative tech platform provider with BankTech and FinTech software solutions which leverage AI based decisioning and workflow technologies to help lenders perform Debt Collections & Recovery (BankTech) processes effectively and for mid-size to large scale enterprise companies (FinTech), to automate Receivables, e-Invoicing & Payments better.

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